The online counterfeit car part market is flourishing and this places road users at higher risk of harm from low quality fake or faulty parts that may be fitted to their vehicles without their knowledge.
Research firm Corsearch monitors the volume of counterfeit vehicle part listings on e-commerce platforms, assisting brands to enforce take down requests, and reports that listings of counterfeit car parts have increased substantially over 2020. COVID-19 restrictions have seen an uptick in private vehicle use. At the same time, the pandemic has seen an increase in on-line shopping. These two factors have combined to create a significant opportunity for counterfeit car part distributors, who commonly use on-line sites to sell their non-genuine products.
Corsearch President of Brand Protection, Daniel Bennett, said counterfeit car part listings had surged. “Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in both counterfeit car parts, as well as fake branded accessories for some of our automotive clients,” said Bennett. “This increase in vehicle use, combined with the now normalised buyer behaviour of turning to online shopping channels, grants counterfeit sellers a bigger opportunity to attempt to sell unauthorised car parts in an in-demand market.”
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive Tony Weber said it wasn’t just vehicle owners that needed to be aware of the increasingly virulent counterfeit market. “This is also a warning for technicians and repairers. Counterfeits are designed to deceive. We have seen technicians unwittingly fit counterfeit parts to customer cars before. Do not take risks with the supply of vehicle parts. Go through your local dealer and remember Genuine is Best.”
Counterfeit spark plugs capable of causing massive engine damage were the most recent part added to the list of fakes encountered by FCAI initiative Genuine is Best. Other dangerous parts include counterfeit oil filters that do not filter oil, wheels that shatter in low-speed pothole impacts, brake components containing asbestos and in one case, brake pads made of compressed grass clippings.
Vehicle owners concerned they have been sold a counterfeit vehicle part can lodge a report on the FCAI’s Genuine is Best website at https://genuineisbest.com.au/report-suspicious-parts/. All reports are investigated by the appropriate brand and, if relevant, shared with IP enforcement officers at the Department of Home Affairs.
Fake, faulty and substandard after-market parts are nothing new, the problem has been around for decades but it does appear to be escalating. Fake structural parts including exterior panels have always been dangerous, but even more so with modern high-tech vehicles. Steels, alloys and even plastics comes in a wide range of strengths and combinations. Every component is developed by manufacturers to extremely high tolerance, and designed to perform in an impact in a very specific way. Fake panels, whether bolt-on or weld-on do NOT behave as designed to protect the driver or passengers cabin. In addition, many vehicle brands include components that are manufactured by third parties and often in non first-world countries. Complete performance failure is not uncommon, as with the still on-going air-bag scandal. See more about counterfeit and faulty parts at https://crashmanagement.co.nz/driver-safety-crisis-global-air-bag-recall/